Seven Days: Vermont Car Blog

All Videos

January 29, 2009

Team O'Neil Winter Rally

I've written a lot about Team O'Neil lately, but I had to get up these last videos of their Winter Rally, then I promise I'm done ;-) The first video is some quick interviews with some of the instructors from Team O'Neil who were driving in the rally, Wyatt Knox - Lead Instructor, Chris Duplessis - Instructor and 4-time Rally Champion, Chris Komar - Instructor and Crew Member for Ken Block on Subaru Rally Team USA. It ends with Dave Mirra - X Games Champion and Driver for Subaru Rally Team USA. The 2nd and 3rd videos here are of the 2nd, 4th and 5th stages of the rally shot from Chick's Sand and Gravel pit.

A funny story- After my interview with Dave Mirra I left my gloves behind (not so funny so far). So I'm out on the course trying to video and it's about 10 degrees F. My hands were freezing! (still not funny) As Chris Duplessis comes by on stage 5, flying along with his car skidding half-sideways something flies off (from?) his VW. It sort of looked like a glove... or a pair of gloves? I'm thinking no way, they can't be mine. I figured at least I'd get some gloves, but no! Once I got over there they were mine. Chris carried them along until he spotted our crew and then tossed them out. What a trip! So many thanks Chris, I'll see you at the New England Forest Rally and I'm buying the beers. You can see their "ejection" near the end of the 3rd video in this group.

Team O'Neil Winter Rally Pre-Race Interviews

Team O'Neil Winter Rally 2009 Stage 2

Team O'Neil Winter Rally 2009 Stages 4 & 5

January 24, 2009

Team O'Neil Day 4

Well the good times had to end sometime and so I find myself at the end of my four days at Team O'Neil Rally Driving School. We came out to the course after lunch and it hit me, darn it, this is it.
As long as everyone's driving skills had progressed appropriately, and ours had, we got to drive one last long run on a particularly tough course. This last winding run included a scary looking, off-camber, icy, narrow, steep downhill section that in preview had me spooked. Instructor Chris Duplessis (a two-time, two-wheel drive Rally Champion) took us through the course at top speed which was a wicked blast. That really inspired me to give it a go. How did I do? Check out the video. It was a great ending to a fantastic week. Thanks to Tim O'Neil and all of the superb Team O'Neil instructors, you guys all kick ass!

January 23, 2009

Team O'Neil Day 3

Each day (and each skill for that matter) at Team O'Neil is a well thought out progression into the following one. They don't push you too hard, but at the same time you are constantly challenged. Each vehicle has two students and an instructor on board. For each new technique first lead instructor Wyatt Knox explains the technique on a white board. Then another instructor takes you out on a few runs showing you how it's done. Then you and the other student switch back and forth each taking about 4 runs and then swapping seats to watch the other guy try it. The pauses allow you to think about what you're doing, then you get to hit it again. Towards the end of the day we got to extend the course a bit and included a big loop around the garage. This added about 6 turns on narrower roads and it was really a blast. I started getting the hang of linking my turns and that felt great. Today we get to push it further and go out on some longer roads. I can't wait!

January 21, 2009

Team O'Neil Day 1

So here I am in Dalton, NH at Team O'Neil Rally School. The day started with a rendezvous at the Hampton Inn in Littleton, NH and then we convoyed out to the school's remote location. The site is beautiful. The school sits in a small valley or dale surrounded by rugged evergreen and birch covered hills. We started with an hour of classroom instruction and then headed out to the skid pad to start practicing left-foot braking and how to use that technique to turn the vehicle on the snow and ice covered low-traction surface. Then we hit the slalom course to start to get some rhythm and commit the technique to muscle-memory. All in all a great start to the week. These guys know what they're doing. I can't wait to see what day 2 brings!

December 16, 2008

A Rabbit By Any Other Name

In October, when Car and Driver named the Volkswagen GTI one of the 10 “most fun cars for $25,000,” I knew I had to get my hands on one. I’ve been reading great things about it for years and finally got my chance to test-drive one last week, courtesy of Lewis Motors in South Burlington.

The Volkswagen GTI is really just a sport version of the Volkswagen Rabbit — though they’re marketed as different cars — and that got me thinking. Maybe I should take them both out and compare. So that’s what I did.
The story actually starts way back in 1938, when Volkswagen began building the economical Beetle. It became one of the most influential and iconic vehicles of all time, and was once the world’s best-selling. By 1975, though, the nearly 40-year-old Beetle was primitive by most vehicular standards. Volkswagen needed a solid replacement. It took years of trial and error, but the company finally came up with a winner. Enter the Rabbit.

Before I go on, there’s a wrinkle in this story: The Rabbit is a Golf. “Rabbit” is just a name, and everywhere else in the world, except the U.S. and Canada, it will always be a Golf. To further confuse matters, though the car is called the Rabbit now in North America (as it was in 1976 when it came to our shores), from 1985 to 2006 it was called the Golf here as well. And Golf doesn’t refer to the sport of golfing. It is short for Golf-Strum, and that’s German for Gulf Stream. It’s a nod to the ocean connecting our shores, where the Germans hoped to ship many, many cars.

OK, glad we cleared that up.

Now, what did the Rabbit have that would make it a worthy successor to the Beetle? For one thing, it was a hatchback, a design that gave it lots of space for its small size. The tall hatchback was so influential that several copycat designs appeared within a few years, including on the Dodge Omni and Ford Escort.
While an economically spacious cabin was a plus, the Rabbit was a joy to drive, too. It had a Twist-beam rear suspension and independent Macpherson strut front-suspension system that gave the car excellent handling characteristics. I had two Rabbits in the ’80s and can attest to the fun I had whipping them around the streets of New Haven, Connecticut. Finally, when the high-performance GTI version rolled out in 1983, it created an entirely new genre of vehicles, called the “Hot Hatch,” and that solidified the reputation of this great small car.

Fast forward 25 years and the Golf (or Rabbit) is the third-best-selling vehicle of all time, with more than 25 million built. That puts it right after the Toyota Corolla and Ford F-Series pickups, at 35 and 32 million units, respectively, and, interestingly, just ahead of the VW Beetle at 21 million units. So, Volkswagen’s effort to replace the Beetle was indeed a great success.

Unlike the Beetle, which had essentially the same design for its many years of service, the Rabbit has evolved, keeping the car in competition with many formidable opponents along the way.

Today the Rabbit and the GTI share some common characteristics. Both show evidence of their German lineage, with many components and engineering deriving from Volkswagen’s sister companies, Audi and Porsche. That they are faster than their peers and fun to drive is a two-edged sword, as it also results in fair but not great fuel economy. Both vehicles can be described as well built, safe, sporty and tastefully designed. The differences between Rabbit and GTI are exactly what you’d expect from any performance upgrade: a better engine, brakes and suspension.

The GTI gets a turbo-charger with an extra 30 horses, which enables it to reach 60 mph about a second quicker than the Rabbit. It gets a six-speed manual transmission instead of the Rabbit’s five-speed. For automatic shifting, they both get six-speeds, but the GTI’s offers a state-of-the-art Direct Shift Gearbox, which delivers more power, better control and faster performance than a manual transmission. The GTI suspension is beefier and more comprehensive, which makes it a favorite on the autocross circuit. And since you can’t see all that performance equipment, the GTI’s interior and exterior design elements are cranked up a notch with sportier and more attractive details.

That doesn’t leave the Rabbit lacking much, though. First, consider that it starts at about $7000 less, with an MSRP of $15,890. And it has plenty of power for normal driving situations. Each of these VWs fills a different niche, allowing the same basic vehicle to compete on the lower end with affordable small cars such as the Mazda3 and Honda Civic, and on the higher end with upscale small cars such as the Audi A3 and BMW’s 1-Series.

The Rabbit and GTI are a couple of great vehicles, one a reliable daily driver, the other a little classier with some extras to get your adrenaline pumping.

December 08, 2008

Wolf Chase SCCA Rallycross

This Saturday I competed in the NER SCCA Wolf Chase Rallycross with two goals in mind.
1) Don’t break the car (1998 Subaru Impreza)
2) Don’t be last

I’m happy to say that the car is fine and by the narrowest of margins I was not last. I placed 11th out of 12 entrants in my class (Stock AWD). So a victory of sorts, but the most important thing is that I had a great time and met some cool people like Scott Beliveau whose Toyota Tacoma can be seen in my Weaver Farm Rally video, Kathy Moody from Team O’Neil, Robert Champion creator of VTRides and Burt Wilcke who was nice enough to let me drive along with him for a run. There was a great turnout with about 50 participants. We each got 5 runs through the course. Thanks to Jeff Hall for the pics!

Here's a link to video of cars actually racing around the field.

Impreza3 The field at Barber Farm started out with a light covering of snow that was quickly blown away to reveal a field that was not yet frozen. It turned out to be a fun, slippery and muddy course that required adjustments throughout the day to keep it in a reasonable state.

On my third run through the course it had been changed. Being new to the sport I was totally unprepared. I think I drove right over the 4 cones pointing me to the new route! I got an off-course for that which knocked my time down a bit. Note to self: follow the cones, not the tracks!

Thanks to all who made this event possible!

Wolf Chase Rallycross - More Video

Here's some more video from the Wolf Chase NER SCCA Rallycross on Saturday, Dec. 6th, 2008.

You can check out my original post here Wolf Chase Rallycross

November 09, 2008

I Punk'd My Bro

My brother, his wife and three kids (from Washington state) were in Florida visiting my grandmother and dad for my grandmother's 98th birthday. Nobody knew it, but my wife and I were coming for a surprise visit.

I got them all in one place by requesting to do a video chat. As they sat there preparing to chat I called my brother and set him up to get punk'd.

October 30, 2008

Snow Tire Shortage

Snow_tire A recent law in Canada requires all vehicles have snow tires installed by Dec. 15th or their drivers will face a stiff penalty.

I called City Tire in Williston, VT to see how the shortage was effecting us locally. It turns out the increased demand north of the border has in fact caused a snow tire shortage here. Each day it's getting a little tougher to find tires, though so far they have managed to keep up with demand. I asked if there was any price increase caused by the shortage. City Tire has not raised their base prices, but have had to pass on recent  price increases of 10% from Bridgestone, Firestone and Toyo.

In Canada prices have as much as doubled and so Canadians are traveling down here to get reasonably priced tires, further impacting the local supply.

If you haven't gotten snows yet and you need them you better get going!

Here's a video of multiple car crashes in the snow to remind us of the fun to come this Winter. Check out the knuckleheads who get out of their moving cars! Never a good idea.

October 17, 2008

Crazy Multi-Car Car Crash

It was a busy Friday. Here's a crazy-ass car crash for your entertainment.
Be careful out there!

October 06, 2008

Burke Mt. Hillclimb Video

This morning I'm in Essex, VT interviewing Joey Kale of Kale's Custom auto shop. The story will run next week, but for now I can tell you that Joey races and specializes in tuning Subarus. Check out the video below that shows him screaming up Burke Mt. during the hillclimb event there on 8/24/08 in his 600 hp Impreza. Tip: The car takes off at 26 seconds in on the video. Do yourself a favor and jump ahead to that point.

October 03, 2008

Autocross Crash

Last weekend I drove in my first Autocross. My wife Christine, always the cautious one, did some pre-event research and came across this video of a drive through the cones gone bad. Enjoy! If you're a sadist...

September 30, 2008

Man and Machine

There was a chance of rain and speed in my forecast. This past Sunday morning I got up early for the drive out to Stowe Mountain Resort for the Sports Car Club of Vermont’s last Autocross of the year.

I was driving a good-looking and capable Audi A4 sedan from Lewis Motors in South Burlington, Vermont. The 40 miles between Burlington and Stowe ticked by quickly and quite comfortably.

As I passed the enormous new Spruce Peak Mountain Lodge on my right a gap opened in the trees to my left and there in a large parking lot I spotted the orange traffic cone course that meant I had found my destination.

Rows of cars were lined up with their hoods open for tech inspection. There were some Mini Coopers, a few Volkswagen GTIs, Subaru Imprezas and at least half a dozen Mazda Miatas. My Audi A4 found good company with an Audi TT and an Audi S4. At two ends of the spectrum were a beautifully restored Olds 442 muscle car and a small, but very fast go-kart.

After determining that my battery was indeed bolted down and that my helmet met their requirements I was invited over to the drivers meeting.

We were divided into 3 groups. Each group would take turns driving, working the course and having some free time to get a bite or just enjoy the beautiful foliage view. The fall colors were beautiful. They should be peaking up that high this weekend. I encourage you to get out there for a foliage tour of your own.

My first run through the course was a ride-along with veteran SCCV member Jason Ross in his Mini Cooper. I don’t know what I was expecting, but he sure didn’t hesitate. We were soon hurtling through the course. He handled the Mini well and with much tire squealing we quickly passed the exit timer.

Finally it was my turn. The Audi’s 3.2 liter V6 powered it through the cones nicely. A light sprinkling of rain had wet the pavement, but the Quattro four-wheel drive kept me locked on course. I didn’t post a competitive time, but I did have a lot of fun and look forward to pushing my limits further in future events.

The SCCV members I met, women and men, both young and old, were all very nice and made all of us new-comers feel welcome. They should be commended for putting together such a great event. Thanks and see you all at Mt. Philo for the Hillclimb October 24-26

Learn more about Autocross and the SCCV.

September 29, 2008

Thunder Road Milk Bowl 2008

This weekend was the 45th running of the Thunder Road Milk Bowl. Brian Hoar, driving the #45 Goss Dodge Charger, invited me to put a video camera in his car for the race. Brian, a former ACT Late Model stock car champion is just returning to racing after a break since the end of the 2007 season. He won the Milk Bowl consecutively in 1998 and 1999.

This video features some highlights of the third segment of the Milk Bowl from inside Brian Hoar's car. Shots from the grandstands during segments one and two are interspersed to give you a better sense of the track for a more complete perspective.

Canadian Patrick Laperle won the Milk Bowl, Eric Williams was second, Ryan Nolin was third. Congratulations to all the racers for an exciting day at the track!

September 24, 2008

Video Test Drive: 2008 Volvo C30

I was interested to see what Volvo had cooked up with the new Volvo C30. They have such a strong brand known for high quality and very safe vehicles, but fun? The C30 has been compared with Volvo’s original sports car the P1800 made famous in the sixties TV series The Saint. Thrilling spy-guy Simon Templar (Roger Moore) was never far from his sporty P1800. Would the C30 serve me as well?

The C30 is considered an upscale small car. It seats 4 and sports a turbocharged straight-5/5-cylinder, 2.5 liter engine. Performance ratings with the short-throw six-speed manual transmission are 227 hp, 0-60 in 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 146 mph. Plenty of power for my jaunt around Shelburne, VT.

The C30 is priced at a level that should encourage first time Volvo drivers to give it a try with an MSRP starting at $23,800. This price puts it in competition with the Volkswagen GTI and possibly the Mini Cooper. These are all fun and enjoyable cars to drive. They start at about the same price and have similar attributes. The Volvo expresses a little more class and neither of the competitors are quite as fast.

Volvo is known for their passion for safety and the C30 continues that tradition. Besides your regular contingent of front, side and side-curtain air bags, it also has seat belt pre-tensioners, a whiplash protection system, a side-impact protection system and an anti-skid system. It's even got anti-submarining protection. I’m glad I looked that one up before taking it in the lake as it turns out to be no more than seats designed to keep you from sliding out of your seat belt ;-)

I left Almartin Volvo and pointed the C30 back to my office to pick up some gear. This was a frustrating choice as I was feeling a need to let this fun little car go fast and traffic on Route 7 had me backed up. I would get my way soon enough on the interstate and on some back roads around Chittenden county.

My favorite driving moment was exiting I89 and pulling some G’s on the off ramp. The seventeen inch alloy wheels and McPherson spring strut front suspension did a fine job of keeping me locked on the road. It didn’t hurt at all that Sublime was cranking on the Dynaudio 650 watt, 10 speaker premium audio system.

Overall the car drove very well. There was plenty of power and the steering was crisp and genuinely felt “sporty”. The car has an upscale personality yet is quite a bit of fun to drive, a nice combination. The interior feels well put together and the “floating” dash-to-console display has a unique and beautiful design.

My Advice
If you’re looking to inject a little fun into your life, at a reasonable price, this could well be the car for you. I would recommend this car to anyone in the market for a fun-to-drive sporty model who also has an appreciation for the finer things in life. The C30 manages to pull both of them together quite nicely.

Is there a car you'd like to know more about? Let me know and I'll schedule a test drive.

Thanks to Almartin Volvo in Shelburne, Vermont for their loan of the Volvo C30 for this test drive.

September 16, 2008

Video Test Drive: 2008 Toyota Tundra

American drivers love their pickup trucks. Sure, with gas prices topping $4 a gallon, trucks are less popular than they used to be. Back in May, the Ford F-150, the country’s best-selling vehicle, was replaced — for the first time in 23 years — by the Honda Civic.

But does that mean no one will ever buy another truck? No way. There are too many jobs and lifestyles that require a good pickup, especially in rural states like Vermont. After test driving the Toyota Tundra I can tell you that, if you’re one of those people who needs the size and capacity of a pickup, the Tundra is a very good choice.

Mike Hughes at Courtesy Toyota handed over the keys to a good-looking green Tundra for my romp around Barre and Berlin, VT.

The Toyota Tundra I tested had the largest engine available — a 5.7 liter V8 — and came with 4WD and a six-speed automatic transmission. Its double cab wasn’t as big as a full-on crew cab, but it still had four doors and a back seat with room for about three people.

For such a large vehicle it drove as comfortably as a car, and was just about as quiet as any vehicle I have ever driven. I enjoyed sitting up so high. It’s a commanding feeling. And there was plenty of power under my foot.

The turning radius is fantastic for a truck of this size. As I approached a T-intersection I was sure I was going to have to do a three-point turn to head back the way I had come. I was amazed when I pulled a U-turn in one shot.

All of the V8 Tundras come with a heavy-duty towing equipment package, including a tow hitch receiver, and are pre-wired for a trailer so you’re ready to tow if you want to. And they’re all built here in the USA, in San Antonio Texas, in a mile-long new facility that started rolling out Tundras in 2007.

Several years ago the Tundra had a reputation for not being as big and tough as its competitors. Well, Toyota took that criticism seriously and the Tundra is now built about as heavy duty as a full-size pickup can be — which might be why the Tundra won the Motor Trend 2008 Truck of the Year Award.

The Tundra is rated for hauling half a ton and towing over 10,000 pounds. The load rating would be even higher if not for Toyota’s decision to use an independent front suspension, which adds greatly to the Tundra’s driveability. The torque range is just sick, providing steady power across a wide range of engine speed. The Tundra also has the largest front-brake rotor of any full-size pickup truck, and four pistons activating the brake pistons — twice as many as the industry standard.

What about safety? The Tundra’s got three separate handling systems that help ensure a safe ride. The Vehicle Stability Control system and Traction Control system adjust speed and braking to keep you on the road. The first checks to see that the vehicle is headed in the same direction you’re steering, and the latter monitors the wheels individually for slippage.

The Electric Brake-Force Distribution system optimizes brake force to each wheel to keep the vehicle balanced. An electronic sensor over the rear axle determines whether you’ve got a full load or are in the truck by yourself.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Tundra is about the safest full-size pickup ever tested. It received top scores across the board and is the first full-size pickup to be judged a “Top Safety Pick.”

My Advice
If you’re even thinking about buying a truck, you owe it to yourself to test drive the Tundra. I found no faults with this vehicle and was very impressed with it for a wide variety of very good reasons. If I needed a truck, or at least could convince my wife that I did, I’d buy one.

September 12, 2008

Video Test Drive: 2009 Subaru Outback

I couldn’t have picked a nicer summer day to take the trek across the state from Burlington to St. Johnsbury. The temp was perfect, not too hot, not too humid. The kind of day that if you have to work, you just wish for a good excuse like I had to get out there and enjoy it.

As I drove down Interstate 89 I had to laugh at the number of Subarus I was seeing. It seemed like every other car was a Subaru and many of them had the Saint J Subaru sticker on the back. That’s actually where I was headed to test drive the newest 2009 Subaru Outback, Vermont’s “unofficial state car.”

Subaru started selling vehicles in the US in the late ‘60s and in the mid-‘70s the company pioneered the use of 4WD in vehicles that were not intentionally built for off-road use. Subarus became very popular in regions with hills and severe winters like we have here in Vermont. The Subaru wagon became the world’s top-selling 4WD vehicle. The Outback is the latest model of Subaru wagon.

A wagon is a nice option if you’ve got kids or dogs, or if you like to go camping or play sports. If that’s all you’re after, any wagon might do, but up here in Vermont, with our tough winters, the Outback’s extra inches of clearance and all wheel drive are nice options.

The Outback competes favorably against other wagons and at the time of my test drive was rated #1 in Affordable Full Size Wagons by U.S. News & World Report. The Dodge Magnum has since snagged the #1 spot, primarily thank to its V8 engine availability and retro styling. Car guys love to go fast, but your family might appreciate the Outback’s significantly better safety ratings.

The model I took out was the 2.5i Special Edition. Besides standard features like Symetrical All Wheel Drive, Vehicle Dynamics Control, 4-wheel independent heavy-duty raised suspension and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System the Special Edition adds an 8-way power heated driver seat, heated side mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer and a 440-watt, 9-speaker Harman/Kardon premium audio system. There was even a plug for my i-pod in the center console.

Road and Track says “The Outback combines the virtues of a small SUV with carlike ride and handling,” and I couldn’t agree more. I found the wagon rode very well on pavement and felt steady on bumpy dirt roads.

My Advice
The Outback is a quality ride, suited to our extreme weather. It’s safe and the added cargo space is a must if you’ve got an active lifestyle. But you don’t have to take my word for it. There are 1000s thousands of other Vermonters out there who — by their loyalty to Subaru — provide an even stronger recommendation. It’s Vermont’s “unofficial state car” for a reason.

September 03, 2008

Video Test Drive: 2009 Chevy Malibu Hybrid

It was a beautiful day for a test drive and I was glad to have the chance to get away from the computer and take the 2009 Chevy Malibu Hybrid out for a spin. I picked it up from Shearer Chevrolet in South Burlington, VT and drove it on a variety of road types including cruising on I-89, in traffic jams on Route 7 and on the city streets of Burlington.

The Malibu is a mid-sized sedan that competes favorably against the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. GM has worked hard to close the gap with these Japanese category leaders and the Malibu is one impressive result.

The Malibu received an extensive redesign for 2008 that received high praise from the auto industry.

  • Car and Driver listed it as one of its “10 Best Cars of 2008.”
  • The North American International Auto Show selected it as the “North American Car of the Year.”
  • J.D. Power and Associates named it the “Highest Ranked Mid-Size Car in Initial Quality.”

This car looks good inside and out, a vast improvement over the previous Malibu. More importantly it drives well. It gets darn good gas mileage and I found that it delivered respectable performance and a steady, comfortable ride. It’s also a safe car, receiving 5 stars for frontal and side impact crash test ratings and 4 stars for rollovers which is right on par with it’s Japanese competitors.

The Malibu has 3 trim levels. The LS & LT models get a 2.4L Ecotec 4-cylinder engine, coupled with a 4-speed automatic shifter. That combination achieves 169 horsepower with 22 MPG City and 30 MPG highway. An upgrade to the 6-speed automatic transmission will boost you to 33 MPG highway.

The LTZ model gets a more powerful 3.6L V6 rated at 252 horsepower. Of course there’s a trade-off on gas mileage at 17 MPG City and 26 MPG Highway. You decide where your priorities lie. Each engine provides different advantages.

The Hybrid model I drove uses the 2.4L Ecotec Hybrid engine. The Hybrid technology bumps MPG to 26 City and 34 Highway.

For comparison’s sake, the Toyota Camry Hybrid might be the closest apples-to-apples competitor. The Camry Hybrid gets 33 MPG city and 34 MPG highway so it’s a slight winner in that category with lower city gas consumption. But the base price of the Camry is $1000 more, and the Malibu actually rides a little better. The engine doesn’t turn off when coasting, it has better steering and a tighter suspension which results in a car that’s a little more fun to drive.

What’s my advice?

If you’ve been waiting to buy a quality American car that is a match for its Japanese competitors then the Malibu is for you. It’s a well built, good looking car, with a quiet ride and good performance — and if you care, it’s made in America.

Would I buy the Hybrid? First a reality check – if I wanted to buy a hybrid with the absolute best gas mileage possible, I would probably buy a Toyota Prius. The Malibu though has some attractive features that eht Prius does not. The Malibu is a larger, safer and more comfortable car. Each car fits different lifestyles and needs.

The difference in gas mileage between the 2009 Malibu LT2 with a 6-speed transmission and the 2009 Malibu Hybrid is 4 MPG city and 1 MPG highway. By my calculations it would take almost 10 years to make up the approximate $1000 vehicle price difference via fuel savings. The 6-speed transmission is going to drive better in a variety of conditions.

It would be very difficult for me to pick between these two cars, but with either one the next time Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” came on the radio I’d be ready to sing along ;-)

2009 Chevy Malibu LS LT LTZ Hybrid
Engine 2.4L Ecotec 4-Cylinder 2.4L Ecotec 4-Cylinder 3.6L V6 2.4L Ecotec 4-Cylinder
Transmission 4-Speed Auto 6-Speed Auto 6-Speed Auto 4-Speed Auto
MPG City 22 22 17 26
MPG Highway 30 33 26 34
Invoice $19,604 $22,534 $25,605 $23,337

September 02, 2008

Mini Cooper sets the pace for Burlington Criterium


It was a beautiful Labor Day as Andy Bonfigli of drove the Mini Cooper pace car for the Burlington Criterium. Each year downtown Burlington, VT gets turned into a pro bicycling course. This year Jake Hollenbach of Burlington's own Skirack won the Top Pro Men's race as captured in this video.

Car and Driver has a new article out titled Guilt Free Fun about cars that are great fun to drive, but also won't kill your wallet at the gas pumps. Of course the Mini Cooper makes that list!

Enjoy the race!

August 29, 2008

Demolition Derby at the Fair!

Here are some shots of the WIZN sponsored Demolition Derby and Rollover Contest at the Champlain Valley Fair in Essex Vermont. Smash 'em and crash 'em up!

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